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Posts posted by Nachimir

  1. I'm not a fan of censorship either, but the BBFC are actually pretty sound people. Censoring things isn't their agenda, giving things appropriate age ratings is (Not that I don't have problems with and plenty of questions about that...).

    They've made a call on Manhunt 2 based on the content. I've seen a BBFC guy defend Take 2 games against bad press in the past too.

    Take 2 are probably going to revel in the negative press for a while, run an appeal, tone down the violence, get it rated, and run off with a collossal sack of money.

  2. Bad flash support is not because of Linux

    Never claimed it was, and even mentioned my expectation that third party development would get better. Sorry for the lack of clarity, but I'm looking at it from a users viewpoint: and educating users about development viewpoints and issues is a lost cause. Like telling gamers "Sorry this game is shit but we were on crunch lots and our project leads were shit". "Oh right. We see. We'll enjoy it more now".

    I also know full well about desktop environments. Window position and size mangement in all the Linux desktop environments I've seen (though mainly Gnome) is abysmal in comparison to both OS-X and Windows. OS-X does remember window sizes, and I recall it being likewise in Windows. Whether or not that is an OS function or the fact the most or all developers for either are conscientious enough to put it in their applications, I do not know. Either way, gnome is behaving in a dumb way with this.

    I've seen way too many responses to these issues (especially no option to turn off select+middle-click copy and paste) that amount to an insecure sounding "FUCK OFF THIS ISN'T WINDOWS".

    Art galleries that talk about educating their ignorant audience end up deserted. Hippie environmentalism is dead in the water because all it did was launch guilt trips to box people in with ideology. Segways turned out to not be the revolution in personal transport predicted by Dean Kamen.

    All of these things are essentially obtuse. They share very poor performance based on assumptions made about and dictations made to a market/culture/mass of people. Gnome developers and users I've seen here and there remind me of those other things. Thank fuck Linux is OSS, because someone will make something better.

    Though they certainly (and thankfully) won't stay that way judging by OSS application trends, in many respects OS-X and Windows are currently both light years ahead of all the Linux builds I've seen and tried. There are plenty of OSS zealots ready to deny that point by point, but frankly, they're deluded.

  3. Design and aesthetics are actually really important. Just noone seems to be able to explain why... :)

    For a few months I've been using Linux on my desktop PC and a macbook for work + RSS/most web browsing.

    Linux is fun to mess around with and perfectly servicable for most stuff. However, even with Beryl running the visual design and cohesiveness sucks. Browser plugins for Flash in Linux are also well dodgy, crashing and stuttering regularly.

    A couple of really annoying things with Gnome are conflicting copy paste methods that can cofuse some programs (with no OS level configuration options), and window positions and sizes for programs not being retained. They're both things Gnome people respond to with "Well that's the way GNOME does it. Get used to it" or "Programs should do that individually, not Gnome" - meanwhile Windows and OS-X continue to lift good features from Linux... (e.g. virtual desktops just announced for Leopard). It's very much still a paper and string operating system in some respects, and some developers seem to be very self consciously trying to keep it "other" compared to windows and OS-X by sacrificing some functionality. I expect these issues will settle and 3rd party support will keep getting better.

    I've been liking OS-X for pretty much everything, except DVDs. I'd almost completely forgotten about region codes until I popped a disc in the macbook and got a giant pain in my ass.

    Also, Psychonauts runs great on a MacBook! I bought it, finally, as the demo was just so much fun :chaste:

    Wormsie, you have just made my day :)

  4. Primer is awesome. Also very, very confusing :)

    After binge watching season three of Lost this weekend, my opinion has reset from a season 2 "oh fuck this" to "Lost is okay". At least it has some evident structure and development now. Still not sure if it will stretch its newfound credibility budget through three more seasons though.

  5. I'm no lawyer, so I've no idea whether there are precedents for this.

    I think the Rockstar case I mentioned above is the only one related to video games using likenesses of places so far. but people are indeed making a landgrab for virtual rights.

    the church is playing the copyright and terrorism game.

    Indeed, and I expect to see more of this kind of thing and related (e.g. that kid who got arrested for making a level of his school). Photography has suffered a similar struggle since the death of princess diana and 9/11, with a tainted public perception and people thinking they have the right to forbid photography when a lot of the time they don't.

  6. Yeah, terrible press coverage. Unfortunately predictable.

    Rockstar got sued by the PlayPen club in East LA on grounds of trademarks, after they parodied it as the PigPen in East Los Santos. PlayPen lost.

    Actually using the likeness of a cathedral could open up some interesting new precedents. Most devs (such as Rockstar) have so far had the fear/tact to just build approximations of real places, but the idea that people don't have to ask permission to simulate something is an interesting one.

  7. That's the thing, "emotion" is more a like a stack of processes we're in the course of defining, all the way from functional viewpoints to affect expression, perception, socialisation, social contruction... argh. It's insanely complex, has innumerable overlaps and is pretty much all relevant to games. It was a stunning moment when I realised noone has actually come up with a good and widely accepted definition of what an emotion is yet.

    Apart from user engagement, emotionally expressive characters seem to have been the entire focus and understanding of emotion in games recently. While that's obviously extremely applicable to AI and uncanny valley issues, I think there's way more in terms of research and viewpoints for game devs to dig at.

  8. There's a pretty good post here that brings up an interesting point: Using behaviour to define intelligence is probably incorrect.

    I think that cuts into the difference between game AI and academic AI quite neatly: Whereas game AI tries to put on a good act by it's behaviour, academic AI tries to get right down and simulate the mechanics of a working mind.

    its a really cool area to write about, i hope u dont think i was criticising you! just really interested!

    No worries, and even if you did criticise it'd probably do me good.

    I get what you mean by categorical perception, and I do really like Ekman's work on basic emotions, but I think it's a crucial point that expressions of emotion are not the emotions themselves.

    "Emotion" in itself is a poorly defined term being grabbed at by many schools of thought right now, and the relationship of facial expressions to internal states is a very complex one. States elicit expressions, but manifesting expressions can also induce states to a certain extent. Expressions of emotion can be suppressed, and also faked with deception, or electrodes in the right spots (Duchenne de Boulogne once did some astonishing work with that).

    I spent quite a while looking at motivation theory and worked out that what I knew as "emotion" seemed to be missing from most of it (for instance Maslow's work deals in extrinsic motivators but posits little to nothing about the internal states of a human being). Looking at emotions from such a functional point of view and trying to build flexibility into motivation, I plumped for a dimensional model mixed with attachment theory, which is why I'm so interested in valence: It's something I feel all the time, it makes for a compelling (pet) theory, but there's shit all in the way of objective measures ;)

    However, I think as a syntax of motivation, it would be an ideal behavioural AI project. I have to learn a programming language. I've sketched out the logic for it and can already see a little of the math...

    one of the major problems with fmris is getting participants to stay still for an hour being subject to 120dB droning, and its been shown that participants playing games in the scanner dont even notice the time go by

    That's really interesting. What kind of games do you get them to play from the inside of a scanner?

  9. I totally agree that solving the uncanny valley is going to need recourse to psychology. I work in experimental psychology and am currently researching the area about which you write. I work with computer scientists, AI guys and developers and if psychology didn't inform, wasn't necessary for, furthering video games I wouldn't have a job.

    Thanks. I'll look Beatrice De Gelder up.

    A couple of quick questions:

    What the best resolution of MRI scanning at the moment? Last time I read anything about it it was 4 seconds.

    Has anyone actually found a reliable way to measaure valence yet? I understand how crucial the concept is to emotion research, but haven't really seen any measurement go beyond arousal (which I understand is pretty easy through heart rate, GSV, etc.)

    The uncanny valley, when it is reached, will be an academic issue, as all things are theoretical before they can be applied to VR.I don't think it's first and foremost a developer's issue. I for one definitely believe that it can be crossed, and I can't wait, because once developers achieve photorealism they can go back to focusing on style more. I don't think it's quite been reached yet, and I think that the revulsion experienced at something like heavy rain is more an approximation of it rather than the real thing.

    Totally agreed. Photorealism and aesthetics is the only other thing I've written about for Gama ;) Looking at the uncanny valley in terms of visuals was interesting, but I always had a niggling doubt that it applied to far more, and the idea for the article I linked above hit me in February.

    That we're only just passing over the lip of the valley and things are going to get worse is a really interesting idea... :grin:

  10. Hmm, maybe I should give Lost another chance. I binged on the first season and found it suspiciously reminiscent of the X-Files, and also found it hard to care during the second season so gave up. It reminds me of people who try too hard to be mysterious.

    How on earth are they showing some kind of coherence in season 3?

  11. No you're right, it has stuff very much like this, they call it their Euphoria AI engine. I saw a demo of it at GDC and it looks really impressive, way better than floppy nonsensical rag-doll animations. The NPCs clearly want to remain upright, and they will struggle to do so.

    The Euphoria Physics stuff is Natural Motion's work. It's improved a lot since that Indiana Jones demo.

    Rockstar have also signed up with them.

    wrt making the game, NM are keen to stress that animators are never written out of the loop. Their tools aren't about automating *everything*, just using automation to significantly increase the power and output of animators.

    The same goes for all procedurally generated content. Procedurally generated cities will have to be tweaked by artists and designers. AI with procedures will trump basic, tree structures of AI responses explicitly defined by designers.

    To put it another way: In any job, the boring, left-brained parts are syntactical and can (all, eventually) be automated. The creative, right-brained parts are semantic and consistently require a human designer.

  12. You can see the whole spectacle of a burning Elmo here:

    I wouldn't dare playing Test Drive Unlimited if I risked causing a horrible accident with "real" characters dying and crying and acting all human.

    I think I'd still dare to play it, but it would strongly affect my in game decisions :)

    If any of you have played some of that Sumotori Dreams game, I've been thinking. The self-balancing algorithm in that game is pretty amazing. In a couple of years, we'll probably have lots more stuff like that. Characters that are essentially "rag-dolls" all the time, who'll trip and fall down stairs and break limbs, try to get up, I don't know. Aren't we approaching a more and more horrible and unbearable gaming experience? Will all future games have to adopt some wild and crazy art style to make it feel unreal?

    The stuff Natural Motion are doing with this right now is absolutely amazing. Everything in that vid is procedurally generated rather than animated by hand. There's also a free edition to play with:

    Seeing a demo of NMs software is one of the things that inspired the article: In terms of the animation they can now do, behaviour is convincingly there for *action*, but what happens when the action stops and the characters have to start talking? They fall flat. The game gets put back on rails.

    I asked them if they were thinking much about body language and affect. They didn't say much but were friendly ;)

    If you look at Heavy Rain, it shows that body language is the kind of thing that can be hand animated (brilliantly in that case), but the next step will be to define it with some form of syntax so that it can occur automatically.

    The discussion on game characters displaying signs of autism reminded me of a recurring theme in Douglas Coupland's work (Microserfs, jPod). He seems to believe that most programmers suffer from autism to some degree. I'm not too sure I believe that, but if true it may be a case of the art reflecting the artist.

    While it's true that slightly geekish and technical people tend to show autism spectrum traits, few of them are so severe as to actually be capable of receiving a psychiatric diagnosis that places them on the spectrum. For instance my brother and I have a bunch of strong aspergers traits, but not so severe we'd ever be diagnosed with it.

    The thought of art reflecting the artist is an interesting one, but I don't think it's the case here. It's more what the art is capable of: AI right now is spectacularly basic, but gets a tiny bit better during each hardware cycle (There's also a massive gulf between academic AI and game AI, with the former trying to simulate the way cognition works, and the latter just trying to put on a good show - mechanics versus aesthetics if you will). Also, many AI programmers I've met are perfectly charming people.

    The autistic behaviour of AI isn't just an artistic cul-de-sac game developers acidentally turned down; I don't think there's any elegant hack we missed for making realistic behaviour out of the ingredients we already have. We just don't know how this thing is meant to work, and it's being painstakingly built one chunk at a time. For game and academic AI both, we don't have the syntax of human behaviour and cognition pegged down yet.

  13. You make some good points, but I think it's 50/50: There are the value judgements in the game, and how much you buy into them.

    I don't particularly care if a game tells me off; the game world is there to let me do what I want with it regardless of other people's opinions. Like Dan says, many people will have no problem using a civilian as a shield in a game, and as the review of Bible Adventures on Thumbs way back pointed out, any moral judgements put into a game can easily be flouted by the player.

    I played Fable TLC twice, once to be as good as possible and once to be as bad as possible. It didn't really make much difference to the story, the main ones were aesthetic and the biggest was just owning more property as an evil bastard who'd murder people for their houses. I didn't feel bad or good on either run through, I just looked it. Both plays were just an interesting poke at an interactive system.

  14. ouendan2_small.jpg

    Got it this morning. It's excellent.

    (Thanks for the Play Asia recommendations all; great service).

    It is back from the EBA hinterland of ghastly disco stars, but has kept all of the improvements like being able to skip straight into the track. The old Ouendan graphics and sound effects are also spruced up, with an aesthetic just like Ouendan 1, but tightened up and made shinier like in EBA.

    Favorite bits so far: Helping a kid to battle nightmares; the music is a Japanese cover of Ballroom Blitz and if you lose he wets the bed. One level is also based on Teen Wolf.

    Verdict: :tup: All the WTF and less of the cheese :grin:

  15. Maybe I can kill it or turn it into something useful.

    This is an incredible debate featuring a lot of people trying to make a definite conclusion with apparently no research or information to back anything up.

    Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing incredible about that kind of debate online. Your post and the one I'm about to type also don't differentiate themselves from it either, because porn and sexuality don't really lend themselves to statistics.

    What I do find incredible about nearly every porn debate I've been in is that people have some really strange assumptions about what pornography is, what certain types of it mean, or who likes them and why.

    (If this didn't involve sex, would it be any more acceptable??)

    WHY does anyone enjoy this type of porn?? Even major porn stars have become shocked at the amount of abuse that some of these women are subjected to.

    I do find it disturbing that some people's sexual fantasies are about abusing other people, but additionally I find it annoying that people mistake kink stuff for the same thing, and few outsiders are capable of distinguishing between the two. I certainly wasn't until I met some people who were into it and could explain it to me.

    Also, stuff like bangbus is blatantly faked, especially because of laws on exploiting people's image. (Stricter porn laws of late have their own problems: 2257 opens up potential for stalking rather than protecting porn stars). Also, the scumbag who runs Girls Gone Wild has been in court due to getting underage girls drunk, screwing them and putting it out on DVD.

    It's not like there are no legal protections at all, but at the same time, it's not like mainstream porn is healthy. I think the same can be said of mainstream sexuality though, in its idealism and its lack of tolerance and openness. I can easily believe the anecdotes you cite, because I've met plenty of people who've talked openly enough about their sexuality to indicate they could be the abusers (or the abused) in them.

    That's a cultural issue with sexuality, but porn is often the easy target for all the outrage to hit. A lot of issues people have with porn stretch way beyond it into really fucked up cultural issues over body image and power, and I think some porn is a symptom of those much bigger issues rather than any kind of cause.

    I'm sorry to say that it's something I wish wasn't so prevalent, and it's my (and others in the industries hope) that people will get bored of seeing something "extreme" and move onto something else instead.

    I'm not so sure what is and isn't "prevalent". Most porn I've seen just has really awful, stupid, clumsy sex in it. Some things I thought were abusive or dominant turned out not to be: I always interpreted men cumming on womens faces as non-fantasy dominance imagery, until I learned there are women out there who really enjoy it and couples who feel closer because of doing it.

    Not to my taste personally, but who am I to rule the underpants of others? Noone, that's who.

    It's plain that typical california produced, porn valley stuff is not a very good portrayal of sexual behaviour, whether the content is abusive or not.

    Can't link anything here I suppose, but if you look up comstock, beautiful agony and i feel myself, you'll find porn that's based on some very healthy views of sexuality. The first revolves around couples rather than "professional hook ups" or models, and the latter is even produced by feminists, ffs. Between the unreal fantasy bodies of porn valley and the ghoulish expanses of untended flesh on adult friend finder, there is actually some healthy stuff out there ("IMO...").

    It's because of this wide variation that I get really sick of anti-porn arguments. The variation is so wide that it's like arguing against film or comics or games.

  16. It's well known that The Paedophile will go to desperate lengths to serve his depraved urges, including cruising along motorways on the lookout for vulnerable children with DSes.

    Soon, we'll know how they think. Then we will be able to beat them.

  17. Relic entertainment is so incredibly underrated it's not fair :/

    Relic's art is second to none. Unfortunately, they're not so good at balance as Blizzard. Patches for Dawn of War and all the expansions have lurched all over the place, sometimes even changing the fundamental nature of a race.

    The DoW games were fun, but I got sick of relearning stuff every time a revision was released. A bunch of friends and I used to play it online regularly as a team, but most of them got so sick of the patches that by the time Dark Crusade came around they dropped it and started playing Starcraft again :grin:

    I got the impression that their patches were often needed because there was too much stuff to test and thier QA wasn't picking up a lot of it. Like when Imperial Guard had to be patched because their bayonets turned out to be exceptionally good anti-building, or Kroot Hounds with shapers attached in the first version of DC: Due to the damage bonus, two packs could take down an entire base in about 30 seconds.

    Things like this were regular, and did lead to some frustrating online play when people would just find a strong unit and churn it out. Even if you could counter, it just got boring.

    wait for another year when they'll actually have a GAME to judge, instead of just a deliberately marginalised bundle of feature tidbits.

    Indeed, I too was a bit "Huh?" at the basic nature of the screens, but am aware of how unreliable early publicity is. Did you see Dennis Dyack's interview about game marketing/schedules/previews on Gamasutra? Worth a read.